Nike Says 'Revolutionary' New Tech Will Set Track and Field Athletes Up for Success at Olympics
Nike has been outfitting Team USA track and field athletes with running sneakers since the 1972 Olympic trials
Nike is making sure Team USA athletes have the keys to success — on their feet.
Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics' start next week, the company launched a new Games-specific colorway meant to highlight the innovative new footwear technology designed to push Olympians toward gold.
"That's really Nike's DNA. ... Giving the athlete every possible advantage we could through the product and innovation that we're able to deliver," Brett Holts, vice president of Nike footwear innovation, tells PEOPLE. "This is very much our wheelhouse and we're really excited about the product that our athletes have been in and will continue to compete in for the Olympic Games."
Many of Team USA's track and field athletes will wear Nike's sneakers including the racing shoe Air Zoom Alphafly Next%, the Air Zoom Vaporfly Next% 2 and the racing spike ZoomX Dragonfly, among other products, for the competition in Japan. The products have been released in a special Rawdacious colorway palette, which includes white, pink blast, total orange and bright crimson.
"We're using more optimistic, fluorescent colors to highlight the technology," Rachel Bull, senior footwear product director, Nike running, tells PEOPLE.
The "revolutionary" revamped products incorporate a lot of performance considerations, like comfort in the Vaporfly Next%2, Bull says. The product designers and innovators also expanded their focus from running to the field events, bringing the Air Zoom to the long jump.
"We've been able to take this concept and just spread it across so many different disciplines, which is going to benefit more and more athletes," Bull says.
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Nike first launched its products, unofficially, at the 1972 U.S. track and field rials, with event-specific technology coming in the years that followed — including the first full-length spike play, the Ultra Zoom, which helped Carl Lewis become the first American to win four gold medals at an Olympics since 1936.
Designers for the brand looked to historical precedent like that for the Rawdacious colorway line.
"Some of our most pinnacle innovations and some of the latest innovations, it's years, if not decades of building, I would say," Holts explains, adding that the time and care put into products has helped Nike develop an "equal relationship and partnership" of trust with Olympic athletes.
Adds Bull, "We have a measurable claim to performance. So when we started to be able to say like, 'Hey, this can help you increase your running economy by 4%.' I think that's some good validation when you see medals won and records broken and as a result."
Both Holts and Bull are excited to watch as athletes make their dreams come true.
"They've been waiting for it, for now, five years and four years is a long way in itself," Bull tells PEOPLE. "So to wait for that long, I think we are just all in for them and doing our bit to create the best product."
To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics beginning July 23rd and the Tokyo Paralympics beginning August 24th on NBC.
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